WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement following House passage of the National Apprenticeship Act reauthorization which would invest in increasing access to Registered Apprenticeships (RAs), youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships during a time of record unemployment left by the wake of the pandemic.

“Our nation faces one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, and the economic hardships and inequities impacting jobless workers and families are continuing to worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 10 million people out of work, now is the time to invest in the most successful workforce training programs in the country. Registered Apprenticeships provide paid, on-the-job learning opportunities and a pathway to stable, good-paying jobs which in turn will accelerate our economic recovery.

“The National Apprenticeship Act would invest more than $3.5 billion over five years to create nearly 1 million additional apprenticeship opportunities in existing and emerging industry sectors. The bill expands access to apprenticeships making it easier to participate in high-quality programs, strengthening workers’ pathways to lifelong careers. Workers will have more opportunities with the expansion of apprenticeships in new occupations and sectors, ensuring that there are new pathways in emerging in-demand fields. 

“Additionally, I successfully included an amendment co-introduced with my colleague Rep. Langevin, that would enable pre-apprenticeship programs to offer stipends to pre-apprentices to assist with the financial costs of participating in these programs such as housing, childcare, transportation, and more. This financial assistance will remove those barriers so workers can more easily obtain the initial credentials needed to enter an apprenticeship program and will ensure both pre-apprenticeship programs and apprenticeship programs are more widely accessible for individuals with barriers to employment.

“As workers and families continue to struggle with economic hardships amidst the pandemic, we must do all we can to help people obtain the education and skills needed to succeed. In addition to creating pathways to the middle class and beyond, the National Apprenticeship Act reauthorization would invest in this proven workforce system with a paid pathway to high-quality employment opportunities, help struggling workers through this crisis, and build an economic recovery for a better future.”